You’re part of an office step challenge, but you ride your bike to work. Or you know 10,000 steps a day is a great fitness goal, but you work out on an exercise bike. In either case, you put miles on your bike, but how do those bike miles equate to steps?
Five miles on a bike equals approximately 10,000 steps. This also equates to about one hour of moderate-intensity biking.
There are several ways to calculate bike miles and steps, and finding the best method for your biking routine will help you keep a consistent record of miles and steps. In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know to keep an accurate record of bike miles to steps, including using technology via Fitbit or an Apple Watch to track your workouts.
How to Convert Bike Miles into Steps
In this section, we’ll explore several conversion methods for determining steps from bike miles.
Start with the Miles You Bike
How is the common rule-of-thumb that 5 miles biked equals 10,000 steps derived? It’s based on an average stride length of around 2 to 2.5 feet. Given there are 5,280 feet in a mile, if we use the 2.5 stride length, that’s 2,112 steps to walk a mile or 10,560 to walk ten miles.
Biking 15 miles, you’ve taken 31,680 steps. (You can find your average stride length by measuring the distance after taking ten steps between a start and stop point. Divide the distance by ten, and that’s your average stride length.)
Use the Calories You Burn
If you’re using an exercise bike, you can also convert miles biked to steps based on calories burned. After your workout, note the number of calories burned.
One hundred calories will equal around one mile, and we know that one mile equals about 2,000 steps. So, if you’ve burned 500 calories, then you’ve gone 5 miles or 10,000 steps.
Use an Online Conversion Table
There are several resources online for step conversion charts. This example gives “steps per minute” for various physical activities with levels of intensity for most. Here are the cycling stats:
|Cycling Miles Per Hour||Steps Per Minute|
Using this table, if you maintain a high-intensity pace (20 mph) for 10 minutes, you’ll have taken 2,000 steps, the equivalent of one mile.
Other great conversion charts include these:
- Calculating 10,000 Steps in Cycling – This is a Gearmashers tech talk by Tom Crandall. He also mentions gauging the level of intensity using the “Talk Test.” With low-intensity biking, you can easily carry on a conversation. In contrast, with high-intensity biking, saying anything is the last thing on your mind.
- Step Length and Stride Conversion to Miles – Indicates how many steps are in “your mile.”
Convert the Time You Bike
If you bike at a moderate speed for an hour, then you’ll have an approximate 10,000 step count. Using a conversion table, here’s how you might calculate overall steps for a typical cycling workout:
|Cycling Time in Minutes||Speed in MPH||Steps Per Minute||Total Steps||Cumulative Total|
|5||10||93||465 (93 x 5)||465|
Other Examples of Converting Bike Miles into Steps
If you’re using an exercise bike, and you’ve cycled for 4 miles, then:
- 4 x 5,280 ft per mile = 21,120 steps
- If your average stride length is 2.2 feet, then 21,120/2.2 = 9,600 steps (keep going!)
Or, if your average cycling cadence is 85 rpm (revolutions per minute) then,
- 85 x 30 minutes of cycling = 2,550 equivalent steps
And, if you don’t want to go through the mechanics of converting numbers, just use an online conversion tool—like this one from Kyle’s Converter—to quickly see that biking 7.2 miles = 15,206.4 steps.
» Related: How Long Does it Take to See Results Riding a Stationary Bike?
Using Wearable Fitness Devices to Convert Miles to Steps
Here are a couple of suggestions for using wearable devices to help track bike miles so you can convert those into steps.
Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Other Fitness Trackers
Like everyone else, you probably wear your Apple watch or a similar device on your wrist. These devices rely on arm movement to track the motion of taking a step. Given your arms aren’t moving when you bike, wearing these devices on your wrist doesn’t help track mileage.
To deal with this, try wearing the device on your ankle or upper arm. I have already dedicated a complete article on wearing fitness trackers on your ankle. Several wearable devices offer bands that you can use to enable you to do this. Doing so helps you to track forward movement and miles.
Check out sites offering action bands or sleeves, Apple and Fitbit, for example. The only drawback is that you’ll lose the other metrics that these devices record, such as heart rate or calories burned.
Clip a Pedometer to your Sock
Another clever move is to attach a pedometer to your ankle. Simply clip the device to one of your socks or the side of your shoe.
Pedometers measure steps by sensing body movement as you walk. Using a pedometer on your ankle will pick up pedal movement as “walking.” If you’re on the market for a pedometer, here are some great options:
- Fitbit Zip
- 3DFitBud Simple Step Counter
- Ozeri Tri-Mode Activity Tracker
- Omron Digital Pocket Pedometer
» You Might Like: The Best Fitness Trackers Without a Display Screen.
Things to Consider When Converting Miles to Steps
Ten thousand steps is an admirable daily fitness goal given the average person walks between 3,000 and 6,000 steps a day. Unless you lead a really active life, you’ll need to add a good number of steps by biking or walking. However, the primary goal of “10,000 steps” ensures that you’re burning calories and staying fit.
Of course, not all steps are the same—there are steps you don’t even think about as you go on with your day. Then, there are some steps that take considerably more effort—such as going up a steep hill, either by biking or walking at a quick pace.
Given this, keep in mind that the intensity of your cycling will affect your mileage count. The intensity level in cycling involves understanding how to maintain a good cadence (counting each pedal stroke over some time).
A lower cadence impacts your legs; a higher cadence has more cardiovascular impact. You may reach your 10,000 step goal, but the fitness impact may be greater because of the effort involved. And, if you’re walking, keep in mind that more (because they’re shorter) steps are involved when you’re jogging than walking.
Whether you’re participating in an office step challenge or an avid cyclist, finding the best way to convert bike miles to steps can help keep progress towards your fitness goals on track. Accurately compiling steps—whether from biking or walking, helps you stay accountable and can encourage you to set new fitness goals along the way.
An accepted rule-of-thumb is that 5 miles on a bike equate to around 10,000 steps. There are several different ways that you can calculate bike miles to steps. Methods explored in this article include basing your calculation on stride length, calories burned, the time you spend on a bike, or a conversion chart.
While there may not be anything particularly magic about “10,000 steps,” there is an agreement that it’s a great fitness goal whether you reach it by biking or walking. And if you are biking, know that you can cover those steps whether you’re on the road or in a gym. Both are tough, worthwhile, and you can enjoy the ride!